Friday, Jul 19, 2013
From July 8th to July 10th, over sixty participants searched for arachnids in Great Basin National Park in order to expand the park’s limited documentation of arachnids.
Dr. Paula Cushing from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science led the Arachnid BioBlitz, presenting a workshop and coordinating collecting activities.
Under the dark skies of a new moon, volunteers used black lights to search for scorpions, spotted the eye shine of wolf spiders, and found solfugids lurking near lights at the visitor center. During daylight hours, some volunteers searched along streams, in grassy meadows, and under logs in thick forests. Others climbed mountains to catch spiders, including Martha Lee, the deputy regional director for Pacific West Region, and Steve Mietz, the park’s superintendent.
Along with Dr. Cushing’s team, the Nevada state entomologist and his team came, as well as researchers from the University of Arizona and Harvard University, representatives from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Natural Heritage Program, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, as well as participants from several states and even Australia. The Great Basin National Park Foundation sponsored the closing lunch and the Western National Parks Association provided raffle prizes.
During the successful three-day event, two orders were added to the park list: scorpions and solfugids. In addition several spider and pseudoscorpion families and genera were added. Further identification in the lab will likely more than double the known arachnid families in the park and increase the known species at least tenfold.
The Arachnid BioBlitz was the fifth annual BioBlitz for the park. A Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) BioBlitz is planned for 2014. More information about the park’s BioBlitzes can be found on the park website at the link below.